Single - Handed Sailing
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|A Few Thoughts on Single-Handing
- Gear makes a difference for the single-hander. Obviously furling sails and power winches lighten the work load for sailing alone. Also Radar with guard zone alarms are helpful but never let a clear Radar screen lull you into not personally scanning the horizon. The most important piece of equipment for the single-hander is a reliable self-steering system. Carry a backup system and spare parts as well. Remember, sophisticated gear can be a mixed bag, simple systems still are the best.
- Shorten sail earlier and try to avoid getting caught with too much sail up. This is a general rule of good seamanship but especially valid when sailing alone. Be sure that your sail control systems are well laid out. While I am not usually a fan of leading all controls aft, it makes sense for single-handers.
- Single-handing requires more planning and less reacting. If you are considering a short passage, a week or less, do as much work as possible before you shove off. Pre-cook meals, pre plan routes, make notes on the chart, etc.
- Conserve energy and develop a workable sleep pattern. I found that sleeping in 30 minute intervals provided me with enough sleep in the night only after I started conserving my energy and cat napping during the daytime hours. Staying rested will be one of your biggest challenges.
- Choose routes that take you away from shipping lanes and areas of coastal traffic. Even if you have to add miles or alter destinations, sailing alone will be much easier if you are truly alone at sea.
|Requirements for Shorthanded Mainsail Handling
- Raise mainsail with one person. using one hand.
- Reef quickly and easily, preferably with one person, at almost any angle to the wind.
- Drop sail at a moment's notice, even with the wind well aft of the beam.
- Easily control mainsail when it comes down
- Prevent the main simply and easily.
- Depower the sail without damaging it.